Travel Shift Perspective: How We View Time On the Road
Tell me if it’s not true, we view time differently when we are traveling. We become more aware of how much of it we have in every place we visit. We do this because we have a sharp awareness of its scarcity. Somewhere, in the dusty windmills of our mind, we know that our time on this earth is limited but heavens knows most of us don’t act that way on a day to day basis. Travel, on the other hand, changes all of that by gently reminding us of our numbered hours and days. This is perhaps because we can process it easier when it comes in short bursts. We know – and understand – we have only a day, a week, a fortnight, or a month at most, on most travels, and we work hard not to waste it.
But how do you stay productive on the road? How do you keep pushing forward on your goals during your travels?
Sometimes, productivity does not apply to your travels. I understand the attraction to the idea of completely unplugging when you are on a unique journey to a special place. How else can you really hear the heartbeat of a new place if you do not immerse into it? I know. I get it. I immersed in Bali and I plan to immerse in Africa next year. Those are life’s special moments and they are not about being productive. Another change is going on inside of us and the process of immersion is best when left alone.
But sometimes we travel to get away from work for a while, to visit family and relatives and to attend special events, to go for a training or a workshop. Sometimes, it’s a vacation, other times, a business trip. Sometimes, it’s just an exploration – a personal journey that becomes an infusion of your life’s work and your own self-discovery.
On most occasions, you may have a reason for staying productive on the road and when your normal environment changes, your productivity routines get shaken up, and what you may not know is how to take advantage of that and use the exclusive benefits of traveling to boost your productivity. In fact, I am willing to bet that in some situations, you will do your absolute best work when you are away and on the road.
In fact, in the hundreds of thousands of miles that I have traveled over the years – our secret to travel hacking is booking through Expert Flyer – two of my biggest challenges have been staying productive and keeping up with my meditation routines. I’ve solve the meditation problem and last year, I started applying these tips below to my productivity challenge!
The result? I created my best-selling product, The Green Juicing Guide, while on vacation with spotty internet connections, in Australia and New Zealand, without compromising the fun and the enjoyment of these heavenly locales.
Your reasons and end-goals for productivity are your own – you may want to organize your files or write that book or read that novel or plan that retirement. Productivity is not about working. It’s about accomplishing what matters to you and you can apply these rules to your personal agenda.
9 Rules to Supercharge Your Productivity when Traveling
Rule #1: Knowing When to Say No
Honestly do you need to go to every cocktail social hour with your co-workers on a business trip? Must you go out every single night and stay out late? Does that yield the best friendships, network, peers? The idea to exhaust yourself in order to build a network or to see as much as possible sounds exotic and ambitious – and I used to be the master of it. It does not work as well as having a targeted high-quality networking time that lets you leave a professional and interesting impression. Seek the perfect balance between networking, seeing sights and sounds and taking time to reflect and recuperate from it all. It’s important to know when to commit to a social outing and when to stay back and focus on your work and personal endeavors. Learn to say no so you hold some time back for you.
Rule #2: Making a Deal with Yourself
This is the perfect example of a mental game and it works, although it partly depends on your relationship with yourself. I know all about the love affair with chaos, and not planning and just going with the flow. I don’t advise it went it comes to productivity. Early on in your trip, just make a deal with yourself on what you plan to accomplish before the end of your trip. Then break it down into your schedule, and think of a perfect way to reward yourself every single time. For example, on long flights, I make myself write 2000 words toward a new chapter in my book or my blog before watching an in-flight movie. Works brilliantly and sometimes, I write longer when I stay in the zone. What kind of deal can you make with yourself?
Rule #3: Using Situational Scarcity as Pure Motivation
When things are scarce, we want them all the more. Let this be your motivation. During travels, internet connection is limited, power supplies are in dearth, and you probably don’t have long stretches of time to relax and sit still and focus. Use this situational scarcity as motivation. You know you have only 30 minutes on WiFi at the airport or 20 minute left on your iPhone before it shuts down, and stay focused, get small tasks done quickly and effectively. Remember the deal you made with yourself, and use the resources that you have at your disposal with smarts.
Rule #4: Feeding Your Ideas with the Travel-Induced Creativity
Creativity is a funny thing. It’s elusive, it’s intangible, and it seems to escape when we need it the most. Travel comes to the rescue; it never fails to give birth to new ideas and to flow new juices of creativity, but I’ve come to notice, it’s not even so much travel as it is the act of moving. Moving and transporting from one place to another generates an amazing surge of ideas and a desire to create something, whatever it may be, anything from a plan of action to organize your closet to a new way you are going to approach your marathon training. Capture and take those ideas to another level every time you find yourself in this self-induced zen space of creative energy. Use the power of mediation to get into that zone.
Rule #5: Scheduling Your Work and Fun in Chunks
All work and no play is not fun at all, we know that but all fun and no work gets old too, especially if you love your work and if you understand the passion that can go into doing something you love. Stephen King wrote in his part-memoir book On Writing how the most difficult thing for him is “not working”. Imagine that!
So a good formula to keep productivity at its highest is to approach your days in small chunks of work-fun-work-fun instead of work-work-work-fun-fun-fun. If you have the flexibility in your travels, create these chunks of work followed by fun and the sweet spot of your productivity will emerge.
Rule #6: Using Small Pockets of Time Wisely
Beware these tiny pockets of time, especially if you are used to wasting them. These are the waiting periods, waiting to board, waiting to depart, waiting in line for food, waiting for an appointment to show up, what are you doing with those 5, 15 or sometimes, 30 minute slots? You can read and learn, because, well, you can never do too much of either one. Prepare your digital devices well before leaving, throw your books and PDF files on your Kindle or iPad or iPhone and have them ready. Take an hour to organize this in advance of your departure and squeeze more out of those small pockets of time.
Rule #7: Learning to Be Productive without Online Access
In New Zealand, I was going nuts running my business. I was in paradise but I didn’t have Internet access, and only because I was on the verge of publishing that best-selling juicing book I told you about. This is the norm, though, our addiction to the online world can be destructive to our productivity habits when we are left without. Learn to be productive toward your goals without having any internet access at all. You don’t need the internet to think, to plan, to come up with ideas, to brainstorm, or to read and just write. Be prepared with at least a dozen ways you can stay productive without the Internet. Your focus will be sharper than a Japanese chef’s knife!
Rule #8: Creating a Make-Shift Workspace Wherever You Go
Oh how we love our routine at home. We have perfect our workspace and moving away from it is not without consequence. No matter how much benefit to being in a new environment, you might miss the familiarity of home. This is why I think you should carry some things that will help create this makeshift of your home workspace wherever you are. Maybe it’s your favorite pen and leather notebook, maybe it’s your favorite snacks or timer or mouse or mug. Whatever it may be, make an exception and just pack it along.
Rule #9: Maximize the Benefits of Being Away from Home
I am not talking about the benefits of travel so much as the benefits of being away from home. I speak as a true victim to this and perhaps you can relate: I get so distracted in my own house, from folding the laundry to cleaning the counter-tops to watering my plants, I tell myself that I am thinking and planning during those quiet zen-like moments but it turns out I am also spending my energy away from work. A small hotel room is bereft of the distractions that keep you running around at your own house. Use this to your advantage. Use the time that you gain by being away toward the stuff that really matters to you and make leaps of progress toward your goals.
“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”
— Miriam Beard